Breaking News: Still Not Dead!

Hello there, internet. It’s been a while, hasn’t it? My fault, really; just a whole bunch of little things piling up (and scuttling across my kitchen floor at night, alas) that kept be distracted from this blog. Thankfully, most of that stuff has been cleared up, and I should have something interesting coming on the weekend all else being equal.

In the meantime, I would like to share something I discovered a week ago: The Writer Will Do Something, a short bit of interactive fiction by a fellow named Matthew S. Burns. The premise is simple: you are the head writer for the video game ShatterGate: Future Perfect, the third installment of a major AAA shooter franchise that is six months out from release. Unfortunately, the first reports from the outside consultants have come in, and the game is shaping up to be an unmigitated disaster. You and the other lead developers have come in for an early Monday morning meeting to figure out what exactly should be done at this late date.

As it turns out, not having played the first two ShatterGates is the least of your problems.

TWWDS is a short game; you can run through the entire thing in about half an hour. Still, there’s plenty of meat to chew on. If you’re into video games, it’s a funny, slightly exaggerated picture of how messed up the development of games can get, with high-stress environments, demanding publishers, and development teams that only grow more dysfunctional as delays and costs mount. It’s also a look at the particular problems of writing stories for games, of how to integrate story with mechanics. Even beyond the medium of video games, it’s a look at the problems you can have creating a work of art with a large team of specialists who only have a vague connection with whatever the greater plan is. Honestly, after playing this, I am now impressed that games have stories that are as coherent as they are.

(Gotta admit, I wouldn’t mind playing some Golem Girl…)

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